BOTTOM LINE: Decent comedy about a man who re-discovers his life after taking a self-help seminar where he has to say “yes” to everything; it’s only let down by some occasional segues in to stupid and very tired Jim Carrey silliness.
THE GOOD: “Yes Man” turned out to be a lot better than expected, mainly due to its clever premise which simultaneously allows for some great comedic moments, but also to explore deeper themes of how you should live your life (or not). Much of this film deals with the idea of opening yourself up to opportunities as they present themselves, and the film does a decent job of exploring these themes quite well; to clarify that, it’s not often that a Jim Carrey movie makes you muse, even momentarily about your life! Jim Carrey, as Carl, is in his first comedy where he does not have to be ridiculously over-the-top with his facial expressions and rubbery physicality; instead, he’s quite subdued for most of the time, which certainly works in the film’s favour as the most dramatic and funny moments come from word-play and character interaction rather than slapstick. Zooey Decshanel, as Alison, is great as the off-beat love interest who falls for Carrey’s apparently changed outlook on life. The best moments in this film are between these two characters as they explore a life of spontaneity. A telling moment occurs later in the film when Carl has the opportunity to get back with his ex-wife when she needs consoling after a fight with her new boyfriend and says “no” for the first time after starting the “yes” program because he has fallen in love with Alison; he suddenly realises the conflicting aspects of life where he has to be open to opportunities but have the intelligence to weigh up all the options and make the right choice. But perhaps the best part of this film from a comedic standpoint, and not all that surprisingly, is Terence Stamp as the self-help guru who encourages thousands to “Yes” in his seminars. He’s not on screen that long but when he is it’s hysterical. Pay particular attention to one scene where you can hear him finding words that rhyme with “yes”.
THE BAD: This film loses a lot of points by trying to incorporate Carrey’s usual array of comedy, which usually revolves around him shouting, making funny faces and distorting his body in to some strange position. Granted, it’s not as frequent in this film as in his other films, but when it does happen, it’s just plain awful, particularly as Carrey looks substantially older in this film and as such does not suit that type of juvenile comedy any more. Another aspect that did not work, and is an extension of the types of jokes that appear in previous Carrey films, is when his elderly next door neighbour “sorts him out” sexually. It’s funny, in a teenage kind of way, but it’s the strongest example of how this type of comedy was obviously put in there to cater for a market (either Carrey’s fan base or the teenage crowd). It does not suit the film nor the story the filmmakers are trying to tell and it is unfortunate that someone decided it would be good to throw these things in to the pot to get more people to watch the film.
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